10 Steps To Writing Your First Novel
By Sara Pufahl
Anyone can dream of writing a novel but it takes cracking open your soul then laying it bare, hand cramps, eye strain and, possibly, a few sessions
of crying to see one to completion. And those are the easy parts of novel writing. To make it more clear, if you want to see your name on the spine of a book, you are going to have to work for it.
Here are ten concrete things you can do to go from dreamer to novelist:
10. Write every day.
What you write doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you are getting your inner thoughts down on paper or screen. Do not edit this writing at first. Allow yourself the freedom to write whatever comes to mind.
9. Kill the inner liar.
There will be a voice in your head that says “You can not do this. Give up.”
If you are born to be a writer, and you will know it if you are, then that voice is lying to you. It’s testing your resolve. Shout it down by saying positive affirmations out loud. This is your dream. Do not let anyone, even yourself, steal it from you.
8. Focus on one idea.
Decide who will be the star in your novel and what locale it will take place in. Pick a goal for your main character to strive to accomplish.
Don’t try to write like your favorite author or the person who is currently on the top of the best seller’s list. Instead choose a story idea by picking emotions you want to write about. Love. Hate. Rage. Disappointment. Shame. Guilt.
You have to infuse your characters with these emotions and let that be the driving force behind their behaviors. If these characters seem real to your readers they will read about them in any setting or situation.
7. Decide on a Point of View
Once you have characters, a setting, and conflicts you need to decide who gets to tell the story. Will it be in first person or third? Will more than one character get to have a P.O.V.?
6. Plan Ways to Make Your Characters Suffer
Novels are about conflict. The characters start off in the middle of a dilemma or transition period in their lives and by overcoming obstacles they find themselves or the answer to their problem. Or they don’t. Either way they have to be constantly struggling toward or away from something.
5. Accept Imperfections.
If you wait until you know how to perfectly construct scenes, dialogue, story arcs, a climax, a resolution, then you will never get past page one.
Your first draft will be a mess. Write what you can. Correct it later when you have learned more. You can not edit a blank page so write what comes to mind and worry about making sense in your second draft.
This is about the time it all seems overwhelming and a dreamer gives up. A writer does not have that luxury. For them the desire to write a novel, to tell a story that reaches into the hearts and minds of strangers and makes them feel, is embedded into the DNA of a true writer.
Take a moment to come to terms with your fate. If you are destined to write, then sit with your pen or
keyboard each day and string sentences together. Novels are written one word at a time. Don’t let the enormity of this task stop you from forging ahead.
Do not listen to anyone who tells you to give up. Instead close your eyes and listen for the sound of your characters speaking to you. When you can hear them telling you who they are and what they want you are ready to start putting their lives down on paper.
2. Figure out your writing style.
There are two types of writers: the plotters and the pansters. Plotters develop detailed plot outlines and background information for their stories. Pansters sit down and start creating with only the vaguest sense of where the tale might end up. Either style can work.
I suggest writing only was much as your need in order to feel comfortable with your characters and story idea. For a plotter that might mean twenty pages of information, note cards, and poster boards filled with scene ideas. A panster could begin a novel only knowing the first name of the protagonist.
1. Write Page One.
Now jump in the deep end and write the first page of your novel. Each day write at least one more page. At the end of the year you will have a novel.
Then you will be more than only a dreamer. You will be holding your dream in your hand. At this very moment the story is inside of you. Write it down.